A HIT squad is set to take to the streets of Southend to slap residents dropping rubbish and dog owners failing to pick up mess with on-the-spot fines.

Southend Council is expecting to make £30,000 a year from dishing on fines to residents making a mess of the city’s streets by dropping litter, fly-tipping and failing to pick up dog mess.

A private firm is set to be appointed next year tasked with cleaning up the city after it was revealed not a single fine has been issued in recent years for fly-tipping or dog fouling.

Offenders could be hit with a fine of £150 for dog-fouling, or £400 for small-scale fly-tipping.

If taken to court, the fines could increase drastically.

Speaking at a meeting on Thursday, Rob McMullen, Lib Dem councillor for Eastwood Park, said: “Given the fact that we don’t currently appear to fine anybody for fly-tipping, littering or other such things, we’ve got a figure here that we are going to raise and we also talk about using a private enforcement team. It mentions contractors so I assume it’s some sort of private enforcement team.

“What are we doing here? Are we going to have people running around the city following dog walkers, following people that might be dropping litter in order to raise this money? How’s this going to work in practice.”

Last year, councillors heard fly-tipping gangs are dumping tonnes of rubbish in Southend. The council said it was extremely difficult to get enough evidence to prosecute fly-tippers and it had concentrated on educating people.

In response, Alan Richards, executive director environment and place, said: “This is a procurement we are looking at currently. We’ve listened to many conversations across the chamber over recent times about the need for increased enforcement. We are looking at a specific contract around enforcement that will deal with low level fly tipping, dog fouling, littering, those kind of things.

“They will be patrolling the city and issuing enforcement notices going forward. We expect to generate an income from that as we move forward. That piece of work is underway. We’re just scoping the procurement documents at the moment and we hope to have that in play during the course of next year.”

In serious cases of fly-tipping, prosecution in court can end in either a fine of up to £50,000 or12 months’ imprisonment.

Anyone found to be in breach of dog fouling orders could be subject to a fixed penalty notice of up to £150 or up to £1000 at court.